For Angelique-Olivia Garner, the City’s new JOB1 program helpedher get off of welfare and make a better life for herself and her5-year-old daughter.
“Personally, I thank JOB1 and the mayor for giving me theopportunity to go through this experience,” said Garner. “I thinkJOB1 is a very positive program.”
In this year’s State of the Workforce address, Mayor C. RayNagin highlighted some positive changes made to the New Orleanseconomy, including reducing unemployment and creating more jobsthrough the JOB1 program.
Garner entered the program for allied health at Gretna CareerCollege with a goal of becoming a medical assistant.
After her graduation earlier this year, she realized hercomputer skills were progressing and she became more interested inthat field. She continued training with the JOB1 program and landeda job in the management information systems department (technology)for the City of New Orleans.
“One of my passionate goals is to try to forge a strongereconomy for the city of New Orleans,” said Mayor Nagin.
This Labor Day marked a one-year anniversary for the address,which Mayor Nagin released last year to report on the New Orleanslabor market and to strengthen the local economy.
Since last year, the Office of Workforce Development, now JOB1,has been focused on providing training and skills that workersneed, bringing more jobs to the city and filling the demand forworkers here at home.
Mayor Nagin said that in light of the weak national economy, NewOrleans’ economy is stronger this time around than last year.
“A stronger economy for the city of New Orleans means that wehave more public dollars for schools and streets,” he said. “Astronger economy also means that we have more jobs andopportunities; better wages and a higher living standard for all ofour citizens.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment ratefor New Orleans is 7.1 percent, which is down from last year’s 7.4percent.
Even though this is a slight decrease, Mayor Nagin and hisadministration are crediting this small feat to the advancement andimprovements made by the JOB1 program.
“In the past 12 months since that report [the 2003 State of theWorkforce] was released, closing the gap between the unemployed andthe underemployed labor market and the employer demand for skilledand reliable workers has been a major priority for thisadministration,” said Andrala Walker, JOB1 director.
Since Labor Day a year ago, JOB1 has aided over 14,000 peoplethrough training programs and enhancing job skills at its two adultcareer centers located Downtown and in East New Orleans. Theprogram has also been responsible for a job placement of close to5,000 jobs around the city and the metro area.
Workers who have been through the JOB1 training program accountfor a 71.6 percent job placement rate, as well as a retention rateof 81 percent. The average earnings increase for the workers was$4,158 after six months for the newly employed. JOB1 Adult Careercenters also helped 64 percent of workers who had been laid off inthe past find jobs.
Mayor Nagin and JOB1 officials have targeted major job placementin the areas of healthcare, technology, maritime, transportationand shipbuilding.
The Business Services Division of JOB1 allows potentialemployers to work with JOB1 to provide skilled workers to bematched with different job opportunities. This is a service that isoffered to employers at no cost.
Through this service, JOB1 is able to have pre-screeningsessions and on-site interviewing for companies like Rally’sCorporation and Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, which haveparticipated since last year.
In 1999, Herman Johnson obtained a degree in music educationfrom Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. Johnson, who is anative of New Orleans, recently visited New Orleans on a vacationto explore some options in job-hunting.
“I wanted to move back home,” he said.
Johnson said he had other interests in retail and merchandisingfrom the past. He went to JOB1 for help and they directed him toapply for a supervising position at the new Wal-Mart Supercenterlocated at 1901 Tchoupitoulas St.
Johnson said he commuted back and forth from Mississippi for twoweeks. After three interviews, he was called back and accepted theposition as merchandise supervisor in sporting goods. Johnson alsostill has plans of pursuing a master’s degree.
Many people have left New Orleans in order to find better jobsin their fields and Walker said with the help of the JOB1 programmore and more people will remain in the Crescent City.
“Building a stronger more competitive workforce is one goal ofthe program so that people like Johnson may come home and obtaingainful employment in management and not just entry-level jobs,”said Walker
This year’s address also focused on other efforts to make partsof the JOB1 program better for the youth of New Orleans. The JOB1Youth Career Center and Youthwork New Orleans both have goals tomaintain employees of the future, by giving the youth a positiveoutlook on life. Walker also introduced Project Nightshift, aprogram designed for young adults from the ages of 19-21 inindustries around the city with 24-hour work cycles that aresometimes hard to staff, according to some industry personnel.Harrah’s Casino and the United Parcel Service have partnered withJOB1 and both companies currently have job slots open.